Saturday, 9 May 2015

My Political Philosophy // What The General Election Results Mean for Britain

If you're not from the UK, you may know that our two main political parties are Labour and Conservative. One is a voice for the working class, while the other works for the privileged few; big businesses and powerful elites; that make up around 1% of this country's population. You might ask, "Well, how did the Conservatives get into power if they really are so elitist and disconnected from the working class?" but, in truth, there are many reasons why this happened.

One of the main problems under the Conservatives' last term was homelessness and poverty. In 2013 and 2014 alone, over 58,000 people (26,000+ each year) officially filled out the homelessness application. And that's just officially - hundreds or thousands more people sleeping rough might not have been able to. Many of the homelessness applications were rejected, with thousands being classified as either: intentionally homeless, not in priority need or not homeless at all, but that's beside the point. My point is, that whilst homelessness is fast becoming a major issue in the UK (and believe me, I've seen a huge increase in the city during my two short years in college), HOMELESS PEOPLE CANNOT REGISTER TO VOTE BECAUSE THEY DON'T HAVE ANY ADDRESS. In other words, the people who are suffering most under the Conservatives cannot vote for change! And they're not alone - 400,000 CHILDREN are currently using food banks, but cannot change their situation. I've actually seen young Tory voters on Twitter saying "they don't care" about this issue because it doesn't affect them, and a vote should be for yourself and your own beliefs, but to those people I'd just like to ask: when did money become more important than people?

Another problem with the electoral system has been that YOUNG PEOPLE UNDER THE AGE OF EIGHTEEN ALSO CANNOT VOTE. The main argument against them being allowed to vote is that they are not technically adults in this country, but remember that for fifteen, sixteen and seventeen year olds especially, the outcome of this general election has directly affected them. I spent quite a lot of time on Twitter during the release of the exit polls and the election results, and all I could see was young people (younger than me) despairing that they probably won't be able to afford Uni tuition fees under a Conservative majority Government. During their coalition with the Lib Dems, tuition fees famously rose to £9,000 a year; despite the Lib Dems' insistence that they wouldn't allow it to happen. Instead, the Lib Dems voted for higher tuition fees, and as a result, lost a lot of respect from the British public. After their miserable defeat yesterday, Nick Clegg leader of the Lib Dems was forced to resign, but the media suggests "history will be kinder to him" when we see what the Conservatives are capable of outside of a joint leadership. There has already been talk of the figure raising to £11,200 PER YEAR. Not only does this directly affect people under the voting age who may have been planning to go to University in the next few years, it also probably ruins any chance of me going, too (I wasn't planning on going while I'm young anyway, but hopefully the price will change in the future). Although students will probably be able to pay it off in installments when they are earning above a certain amount, it is likely that they will never pay it back. Consequently, they're in debt for most of their working life, and the Government loses money. Why do they preach about "skilled work", but make it so unaffordable? There's also the morality of the situation. If you think about it logically, it seems absurd. Sixteen year olds are legal to have sex - literally allowed to create life - before they have a say in how the country is run. Youngsters can die on battlefields and risk their lives on the roads before they are allowed a vote. The elderly have their right to vote - there is no cap on how old you have to be to vote, so why put a cap on the youth? In my view, sixteen year olds can make their own informed decisions.

Of those who COULD vote, and did, 63% of them DID NOT VOTE CONSERVATIVE. These votes were mainly distributed between Labour, the UK Independence Party, and the Scottish National Party. Arguably, this happened because our First Past The Post system is outdated, and leads to an unrepresentative Government. For example, UKIP received around THREE MILLION votes, but gained only ONE seat in Parliament. Not that I would have enjoyed the prospect of a UKIP coalition - it's probably the only blessing to come out of this election - but still, for a party which came third in the polls, this is not accurate representation. The main opposition, Labour received only 7% less of the vote than the Conservatives; but this, to the Government, does not constitute a re-vote. So, 63% of people have to deal with being governed by people they do not want to be governed by... for another five years. And this is why we need a different, more equal system.
"Capitalism has defeated communism. It is now well on its way to defeating democracy." - David Korten, Agenda for a New Economy.
Generally, the Conservatives aren't trusted with the NHS, while Labour aren't trusted with the economy. What we can count on under the Conservatives is the continued privatisation of the NHS, which no ordinary, rational person would want.  And, although the effects of privatisation are still unclear and possibly yet to be revealed, you can bet one of Labour's promises in the next election will be re-nationalisation of the NHS (seeing as they founded it). Then, when Labour, or another party, have to find the money to re-nationalise it, they will almost certainly be blamed for the bad economy again! This is almost inevitable.

One poster I saw floating around during the Election Campaign said: "Vote Labour: for the slightly more humane management of the terminal decline of late capitalism". I think that very succinctly sums up what Labour are about. The economy might not always be brilliant, but people still need to be treated decently in the eventuality that it begins to fail. Under the Conservatives, the poorest get poorer for the better of the economy - I am of the view that this does not need to happen. There must be some way of making everything work well for the country without the incessant suffering of ordinary working people. For a start, minimum wage should be higher than the cost of living - not decreasing! Given its unpopularity, the bedroom tax on some of our most vulnerable people should not be allowed to continue! Someone for the love of God, in the words of Sir Winston Churchill, "save Britain from herself".

When politics is this predictable, it shows you just how intelligent the electorate is. Politicians do not need to pretend. Labour's Ed Miliband seemed like a genuine guy, but he has had to step down after his defeat. His villainisation at the hands of the right-wing media (which is controlled largely by Rupert Murdoch, who benefits massively from a Tory Government) contributed to his downfall - but the media is a conversation for another day. So who will be chosen to defend tuition fees, the NHS, tax evasion, human rights, to address the gap between the the rich and poor, not to mention the new divide between Scottish and English politics, when there is no clear leader?
"The media is the most powerful entity on Earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent." - Malcolm X.

Sorry, for the length of this, I realise it's more like an article - but I feel very strongly about it! Peace! Meaghan x

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